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Microsoft Beefs Up Retail With More Store Openings

Pedro Hernandez covers Microsoft products and services, such as Office, Windows, Windows Phone, Azure and Skype.

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Microsoft continues to ramp up its bricks and mortar retail presence with additional shop openings for 2013

Microsoft continues to grow its physical retail presence in order to reach consumers, at least in the United States.

The software giant announced today that in addition to the six stores that the company plans to open this year, it expects to open an additional five new stores by the time summer rolls around. Microsoft general manager Jonathan Adashek revealed in a company blog post that two states, including one a fair distance away from the mainland, are getting their first Microsoft retail outlets.

New Openings

Microsoft is opening its first store in Michigan at The Somerset Collection shopping centre in Troy. Hawaii’s first Microsoft Store will greet Ala Moana Centre shoppers in Honolulu. The other newly announced locations include the Natick Mall in Massachusetts, Pioneer Place in Portland, Ore., and the Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg, Ill.

microsoft storeIn total, the company expects to open 11 new locations in the US this year as it attempts to connect with consumers.

“From the newest touch-screen laptops, desktops and tablets running Windows 8, to Windows Phones, to Xbox and Kinect consoles and accessories, to a wide array of first- and third-party software titles, our goal is to introduce you to the best choice, value and service we have to offer,” stated Adashek.

And Microsoft has reason to get its wares in front of more shoppers and pursue a retail expansion strategy that supports that goal.

An encouraging spark of early interest surrounding Surface RT faded soon after its launch leading to a disappointing holiday shopping season. Analysts widely criticised Microsoft’s decision to sell Surface RT exclusively through its online store and physical retail locations for the tablet’s modest showing on sales charts.

According to UBS, the company only managed to sell 1 million Surface RT slates in the fourth quarter of 2012. Microsoft has since opened up Surface distribution to other retailers, including Best Buy and Staples.

Consumer Push

Microsoft is also waging a battle against a rival that has profited immensely by relentlessly courting consumers.

In terms of physical stores, Microsoft is vastly outnumbered by Apple. The latter’s stores are not only big money makers in their own right, in some places they double as tourist attractions.

Highly trafficked stores like the Cube on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan allow countless visitors to spend some hands-on time with the company’s latest Macs, iPhones and iPads, boosting sales. Apple stores generate more than $6,000 (£3,831) per square foot, on average, enough to top Retail Sails’ rankings. For comparison’s sake, high-end retailer Tiffany & Co. is a distant second with roughly half of what Apple rakes in.

Redmond could use that kind of retail momentum, particularly now that its soon-to-be released Surface Pro tablet will face off with Apple’s 128GB iPad. Microsoft’ aggressive push into brick-and-mortar technology sales – it cut the ribbon on 51 locations last year – indicates that the company is eager to compete for shoppers.

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Originally published on eWeek.